The fundamentals of thermal comfort in commercial properties: what you need to know

April 13, 2023
CIM Team

The Significance of Thermal Comfort in Healthy Buildings

Have you ever noticed how some commercial spaces feel just right, while others are too hot or too cold? 

Achieving the perfect balance of thermal comfort is a complex science that goes beyond simply adjusting the thermostat. In this article, we will explore the fascinating world of thermal comfort and the factors that contribute to a satisfying indoor environment in commercial buildings.

What is Thermal Comfort?

According to BS EN ISO 7730, thermal comfort is a state of mind that expresses satisfaction with the thermal environment. It occurs when a person feels neither too hot nor too cold. 

To achieve thermal comfort, various factors must be taken into consideration, including ambient temperature, humidity, air circulation, personal factors like clothing and metabolic rate, and even the type of building.

In the context of commercial properties, thermal comfort plays a crucial role in maintaining a healthy and comfortable environment for occupants, ultimately impacting their productivity and overall well-being. Therefore, understanding and striving to achieve optimal thermal comfort should be a top priority for building owners and managers.

Thermal Comfort Variability in Different Spaces

Thermal comfort requirements can differ between various building types and even between different sections of a building. For instance, a hospital's operating theater, waiting room, and recovery ward have unique temperature, air circulation, and ventilation requirements. 

Office buildings may require different temperature settings for conference rooms, individual offices, and open workspace areas. 

Similarly, museums need to maintain specific climate conditions to preserve exhibits while ensuring visitor comfort. Acknowledging and addressing these diverse needs is essential for optimizing thermal comfort in commercial buildings.

The Role of HVAC Systems in Maintaining Thermal Comfort

Heating, ventilation, and air conditioning (HVAC) systems are crucial for controlling temperature, humidity, air quality, and circulation within a building. Their efficiency and performance significantly impact occupants' overall thermal comfort. 

Well-functioning HVAC systems can prevent unnecessary heating or cooling and reduce carbon emissions, contributing to a healthier environment for everyone.

Identifying and Addressing Thermal Comfort Issues

Various issues can affect thermal comfort, such as mechanical design flaws in HVAC systems, poorly programmed control logic within a building management system (BMS), or faulty sensors. Identifying and resolving these problems promptly can help building managers avoid tenant complaints and high energy bills.

Adapting to Occupants' Preferences and Changing Conditions

One of the challenges in managing thermal comfort lies in adapting to occupants' diverse preferences and changing external conditions. This could include addressing seasonal variations, fluctuations in occupancy, or even personal preferences of individual tenants. Implementing adaptable and flexible strategies for thermal comfort management can help create a more inclusive and comfortable environment for all building occupants.

The Environmental and Sustainability Impact of Thermal Comfort

Achieving optimal thermal comfort not only enhances the well-being and satisfaction of building occupants but also plays a crucial role in promoting energy efficiency and sustainability in commercial buildings. By effectively managing thermal conditions, building owners and managers can minimize energy waste and reduce their carbon footprint, contributing to a greener and more environmentally responsible property sector.

Harnessing Technology for Thermal Comfort Management

As the understanding of thermal comfort in commercial buildings continues to evolve, technology plays a crucial role in monitoring and managing indoor environments. Advanced building analytics platforms, such as PEAK, provide valuable insights into thermal comfort conditions across all zones, floors, and tenancies of a building. By leveraging such technology, building owners and managers can create healthier and more sustainable spaces that cater to the needs of occupants.

Discover how the PEAK platform can help you gain a deeper understanding of your building's thermal comfort and contribute to a more sustainable future. Request a callback today to learn more about our innovative solutions for commercial buildings.

CIM Team
April 13, 2023